The Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Congressman Henry Hyde, said on December 10, 2002, that human rights is a prominent component of U.S. policy towards China and that it will be a mistake to conclude otherwise.

In an address at Tsinghua University in Beijing on International Human Rights Day, Congressman Hyde spoke on the relationship between the United States and China, both in the present and in the future. In a reference to China’s poor human rights record, Chairman Hyde said that a “more difficult aspect of our relationship is the subject of human rights.”

“Human rights abuses are a violation of our common humanity, wherever they occur,” the Congressman continued.

Congressman Hyde stressed that the US would continue to monitor human rights situation throughout the world, saying, “As Americans, we believe that the principles on which our country was founded are universal, and that they are inherent rights for Americans and non-Americans alike. To hold these beliefs is also to believe that one cannot be indifferent to events in other countries.

“Some declare that, regardless of our motives, this is an unacceptable interference by the U.S. in the affairs of other countries,” Mr. Hyde continued. “A more sinister motivation is often imputed, including a depiction of our actions and statements in purely cynical terms as the means for sowing discord and opposition within our competitors.”

Chairman Hyde implied that China should not hope for any lessening of U.S. concern for human rights.

“One thing is absolutely certain: The United States – its people and its government – will continue to make human rights a prominent component of its foreign policy, regardless of what the practitioners of Realpolitik would advise.

“It would be a profound mistake to conclude that these are irrelevant concerns for us or that we will desist from expressing our concern about them.”

Congressman Henry Hyde was leading a delegation to China. He met with Li Peng, chairman of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC), on December 9, 2002 and with Chinese President Jiang Zemin on December 10, 2002.

The text of Congressman Hyde’s remarks at Tsinghua University was released by the House International Relations Committee in Washington, D.C. His visit to China comes just before U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was due in Beijing.